Some fantasy owners tend to focus on the elite players when judging the success of their drafts. For me, the middle and late rounds are the stage of an auction, when most players are being purchased for single-digit dollars, are much more important. Leagues are won by drafting players for $5 who end up delivering $15 in value. Leagues are not won by drafting a player for $40 who ends up delivering $40 in value. When preparing for the Tout Wars Mixed Auction draft each spring, I always make a long list of guys who could reward me with a decent profit, and if I walk out of the draft room with two or three of those players, I walk out of the draft room happy. And, I walked out of the draft room in a fairly good mood this year, as I had secured a number of my targets.
Three weeks into the season, however, I'm starting to question exactly what I saw in some of these players that led me to believe in their profit-earning ability. All of the following players are off to slow starts, and even more depressing is the fact that a number of players who were included in my original long list but did not land on my roster are outplaying the guys who did find a home on my team. And as it turned out, my underachievers were the more expensive players. So, who am I talking about?
Ketel Marte ($7) - Marte was the talk of the town towards the end of the draft season as more owners studied his 2015 stat line and stellar minor league numbers and became convinced that a .280 batting average with 25-plus steals was well within reach. By mid-March, the 22-year-old had moved up to the top-12 in most shortstop rankings. Eventually, I was swayed by this wave of optimism and was quite surprised to land Marte for only seven bucks. Right now, it's looking like I overpaid by seven bucks. Through 14 games, Marte is batting .212 with only two stolen bases and five runs scored. After opening the season hitting near the top of Seattle's lineup, he's hitting mostly in the No. 9 spot these days, a frustrating development for owners relying on him to contribute in the runs department. But Marte is still very young, and I think the Mariners will be patient with him, so I'm not in full panic mode yet. Check back with me in a few weeks.
Could have drafted: Neil Walker ($6)
Pedro Alvarez ($7) - Everything was set up so nicely for Alvarez heading into this season. He would get a fresh start with the Orioles and would greatly benefit from playing half of his games in home run-friendly Camden Yards. And it seemed like the fantasy world had completely forgotten about him, even after he slugged 27 home runs in what was widely viewed as a disappointing 2015 campaign. To be honest, I wish I had forgotten about him too. No homers and one RBI entering play on April 23rd? Really? The good news is that it can't get any worse for Pedro, so I'll just need to sit tight and hope for a hot streak.
Could have drafted: Chris Carter ($6)
Julio Teheran ($6) - Teheran as my SP5 in a 15-team mixed league? Sign me up! After struggling throughout the first half last season, the Braves righty posted a fine 3.42 ERA in the second half, and factoring in his stellar numbers from 2013-2014, he seemed like a no-brainer bounceback candidate. But the inconsistency that plagued him during the early portion of 2015 has returned, and my patience is being tested. On the other hand, Teheran's two poor outings so far have come against two upper-tier offenses in the Cardinals and Nationals, so perhaps he deserves some slack. I'm still a believer in him, as crazy as that might sound.
Could have drafted: Jaime Garcia ($5)
Nori Aoki ($3) - Being that Tout Wars is an OBP league, I was pleased to get Aoki (career .351 OBP) for three bucks. But OBP wasn't the only reason why I had targeted him. As the projected leadoff hitter atop an improving Mariners lineup, the 34-year-old could tally 80-plus runs and approach 20 steals. Well, through 16 games, Aoki sports a .265 OBP and is on pace for 61 runs. Oh, and he has yet to steal a base. Maybe he's simply too old to be a reliable source of steals. Maybe he's simply too old to be a reliable source of anything. Maybe I need to give Aoki some more time.
Could have drafted: Kevin Kiermaier ($1)